Friday, November 24, 2023

REM #15: Collapse Into Now


Release Date: March 7, 2011

Members: Michael Stipe (vocals); Peter Buck (guitars); Mike Mills (bass, keyboards)

Produced by Jackknife Lee & REM

Track Listing: Discoverer; All the Best; Uberlin; Oh My Heart; It Happened Today; Everyday is Yours to Win; Mine Smell Like Honey; Walk it Back; Alligator_Aviator_Autopilot_Antimatter; That Someone is You; Me, Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando and I; Blue

Collapse Into Now was pre-determined to be the final REM record, in a mutual decision to disband. The album features a variety of tracks calling back to different eras of the group's history, often referencing older songs. There's also a sense of time passing, the lingering message throughout is one for posterity, many of the songs are addressed to "the kids." 

"Discoverer" recalls the more muscular sound of Monster from 1994, and the sentiment going back to Murmur's opening track "Radio Free Europe." The power pop of "All the Best" has a one more for the road vibe, "it's just like me to overstay my welcome." "Uberlin" offers fantastical daydreams with neo-psychedelia sound.

"Oh My Heart" is one of REM's most poignant songs, told from the viewpoint of someone returning to New Orleans amidst the devastation left by the storm. "It Happened Today" is baroque pop, commenting on the nature of interpretation. "Everyday is Yours to Win" offers a compassionate message to someone in despair at the state of the world - evoking a lullaby. 

"Mine Smell Like Honey" offers subtle sarcasm on ego, "Walk it Back" is piano driven and a meditation on time passing."Alligator_Aviator_Autopilot_Antimatter" is punkish and juvenile by design. "That Someone Is You" is guitar driven, mocking a sophomoric rant by an adolescent. "Me, Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando and I" muses on celebrity and cultural obsessions. The final REM track "Blue" features Stipe giving a spoken word poem, with Patti Smith providing back-up vocals, always a influence on the band since the beginning, then the fadeout goes into a reprise of "Discoverer."

Collapse Into Now is a fitting farewell. REM began as a fledgling college band in Athens, Georgia and climbed their way up from a cult band to mainstream success. Through it all, they stayed true to progressive ideals and avoided becoming the walking clich√© so many rock bands become. 

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